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AFLW: Crow calls on finals experience

Matilda Conlon  March 22, 2017 11:41 PM

AFLW 2017 Rd 06 - Adelaide v Melbourne

DARWIN, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 11: Georgia Bevan of the Crows in action during the 2017 AFLW Round 06 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Melbourne Demons at TIO Stadium on March 11, 2017 in Darwin, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

Having those (flags) under your belt really does prepare you for how to go into the week and the day

The Crows women's team will be drawing on past finals experience to help handle the pressure of Saturday's inaugural AFLW Grand Final.

Midfielder Georgia Bevan is no stranger to big games – she has won three premierships in a row at Morphettville Park, where she is also Club President.

“We’ve had some really good success in our last three Grand Finals,” Bevan said.

“Having those under your belt really does prepare you for how to go into the week and the day.

“I think we’ve got a really good understanding of how to keep to your routine.”

With eight ‘Morphy Park’ players on the Crows list, there’s no shortage of Grand Final experience throughout the side.

Courtney Cramey and Deni Varnhagen played alongside Bevan in those three premierships, and Rising Star nominee Ebony Marinoff has won four flags for the club.

Dayna Cox, Jess Sedunary, Anne Hatchard and Justine Mules have also held up a cup for Morphy Park, while Kellie Gibson is a dual WA premiership player.

Up north, the Darwin-based Crows from the Waratahs have had a similar streak of success.

Abbey Holmes and Lauren O’Shea have won four flags with the ‘Tahs’, vice-captain Ange Foley three, and Heather Anderson one.

Given the standard of the national AFLW competition, Bevan knows Grand Final Day this week will be “a whole different ball game”.

But the understanding of how to handle the hype is invaluable.

“Mentally, it gives you a little bit of an edge and a bit of calmness about you,” said Bevan, describing her journey from nerve-racked finals debutant to a more assured participant in recent years.

“By the time I got to my second and my third final, I had a real confidence that my teammates would get the job done and beat each and every one of our opponents.

“I’m having the same sort of calmness and confidence in my teammates again, so I think that’s a good sign.”

The Crows will take on the top-of-the-table Brisbane Lions at Metricon Stadium at 12:55pm (local) on Saturday.

Bevan expects the intensity of the match to rival that of the Round Two encounter with the Western Bulldogs, and the three-point loss to the Lions in Round Five.

“It’s a really special game this week because we’re both teams that people least expected to be there,” she said.

Unlike the undefeated Lions, who finished with six wins and a draw, the Crows have lived and learned from consecutive losses late in the season.

“I definitely feel like the underdog,” Bevan said.

“I feel like we’ve had an opportunity to grow ... dropping those couple of games.”

The noise of the 12,000-strong crowd at Norwood Oval in Round Five was another taste of what’s ahead at Metricon Stadium, but Bevan isn’t easily distracted.

“I try and focus on what I can control. I have a bit of a mantra, the Racing Stripes quote – ‘Don’t look back, leave it all on the track’” she said.

“That’s what I think about on big games and Grand Finals. On a football field, there are so many opportunities for you to contribute.

“The game will fly before your eyes, so just make the most of the opportunities you get to make an impact.”

The team farewelled fans at an open training session at Football Park on Wednesday night, and will head to the Gold Coast early on Thursday to prepare for the historic occasion.

“Saturday is going to be an emotional rollercoaster,” Bevan said with a laugh.

“We had a wellness session early in the week, talking about the journey and it gave me goosebumps.”

The short and sharp seven-week season already has players feeling sentimental.

“A couple of us said tonight, ‘this is our last training session here all together’,” Bevan said.

“We’re never going to have this same group of people ever again, so it was nice to finish on such a positive training session, having the crowd and fans there to support us.”